One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
The Loa Depths
18 December 2000
We all feel low sometimes. That's why God gave us two arms - to hold each other up. My father told me that. It was, I found, a most inspiring lesson.
Oh, no. He is no longer with us. Going down, by the way? Excellent.
No. My father was a good man, but perhaps a little overfond of his own melancholy. It brought him down, you know, until...well, eventually I simply had to do something. He was disrupting the whole neighbourhood.
Nowhere nearby. I'm really quite well-travelled, although I seem to have come to rest here. Be it ever so humble, as they say. Please, go ahead. You may want to be ready to roll them down again, though. It gets a lot cooler further below. What you might call a microclimate. It's the strangest thing.
No, don't lean out. Obviously, I can't compel you, but I must ask that you observe the integrity of the cage. I know it is somewhat abraded at edge and corner, but it is there for a reason. Besides, what would there be for you to hold on to?
This is perhaps the best-loved part of my journey. The wind whistling in the wires - if a sudden stop should afflict us, we can allegedly summon help by striking the copper. Very conductive, or conducive, if you see what I mean. But don't worry. Every part of the elevator, although old, is working well - you should see those boys at the weekends. Like little Herculeses! - and our downward progression, although occasionally jerky, will be continuous and perfect. You have my word on that.
Oh, that was quite a bad one. You're looking a little pale. Don't you worry. Safe as houses, I say. Safe as houses. If I could count the number of times I've taken this path, without mishap...well, I'd be an exceptional fellow indeed. A positive prodigy.
No, I didn't, did I? Tyburn, originally; you may be able to pick up the faintest of accents, but it's -
Oh, him. Yes, interesting case. Don't wave to him; you'll only make him flinch, and he'll drop that great hulking thing. It's basalt, you know, heavy as anything.
Do you know, I'd never thought about that before. Those books...they're called that because they hold the world. Clever...
Oh, yes, sorry. I've told this tale so many times sometimes I think I've already told it, if you take my point. That is Mr. Qualkishan.
Yes, quite a mouthful. Foreign? Well, yes and no. He was deposited on Earth like an infant sweet wrapper by his parents, who inhabited the planet Lepton. And still do, so far as we can tell. Why they felt the need to blast their child into space has never been made entirely clear. Still, I'm sure they had their reasons. He's certainly less than edifying company, but they could hardly have known that. Maybe some prophecy of impending doom. Maybe they were just bored. Perhaps it was an experiment. In which case I fear we've rather overturned the cage.
No, I don't expect you to believe it. Nonetheless, it is the truth. Warmed by the rays of our yellow sun, possessed of superhuman strength, able to induce iron to melt just by looking at it, and as pure as water, ready to stand up for the right and the good and the noble. All that.
Indeed. Seems most peculiar that such estimable ambitions should be expressed by humping rocks about, useful though it undoubtedly is to us. Let me answer that most perceptive question with one of my own.
What is the one thing you are terrified of beyond all else?
No? Very wise. Our Leptonian friend was a little more eager to share secrets, and there we go. We had higher hopes, I must confess, but he's not really good for much else. Oh, except that Mr. Coronin from the 13th basement rapes him occasionally.
Now, I did ask you not to place any part of your body outside the elevator. Please be a little more thoughtful. After all, last scion of a largely indifferent race or not, our superhuman friend up there is clearly in far better condition than you to affect his surroundings. For the first twenty years or so he did try. But I really think you might want to save your energy.
Excellent, you just curl up there, get a little rest. You've got a way down to go yet. You'll be amazed who you'll pass by. Startling who fetches up here. Missing persons, misplaced luggage, adorable little lost children. Embezzlers on the lam with surprisingly little money, store detectives, frustrated wives, exhausted clubbers in highly unsuitable clothing. Very peculiar.
Well, now, that wouldn't be very logical, would it? Of course you're not. You're as alive as I am. You're just in an elevator. Nothing strange or paranormal about that. You're in an elevator, and you're going down.